Engraved in the marble at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Australian War Memorial are the words, “He is all of them and he is one of us.” The remains of this unknown Australian soldier, who died in the First World War are laid to rest in the hallowed Hall of Memory.
The words remind us that he is representative of “all of them”, the men and women who have served Australia in various theatres of war. They fought to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy in Australia and he represents those who have given their very lives in that service. The words also remind us that he is “one of us”. An Australian, yes. But more than that. He was a citizen of this world. A part of humanity. This unknown soldier could just as easily have been me. Or you. He could have been your grandfather. Or your mother. Your sister. Your nephew. Your great aunt. His anonymity is key to understanding his significance. We don’t mourn his character, his virtues, his courage or his righteousness, because we don’t know if he possessed any of those elements.
English clergyman and poet John Donne in the 1600s wrote “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind” (Meditation XVII). We grieve for the soldier because his death is a loss from this world. What once was, is no longer. We grieve for the human condition. We mourn for our mortality and we long for immortality. We wish that no one had to die. He is one of us. And he is gone.
Yet in that very lesson, is an encouragement for us today. For if I mourn the loss of a man I never knew, then I have come to understand that every person has a valuable place in our world. All people make up the wonderful tapestry of humanity, weaving their part in colours bright and in subtle textures. Each one of us has a role, we are all actors in the drama of life. I am a part of humanity, a citizen of this world. I am involved in mankind.
I am one of us.
And so are you.
The Friendly Funeral Guy
Our sincerest gratitude to you and the team from Ian J Arthur Funerals. Rosemary and I really appreciated how helpful yet sensitive and unobtrusive you were with the process and in particular the ceremony yesterday. I really appreciate it and your practical help.Alan Daly
Ian was the most likeable person that I have dealt with in a long time . He was very kind and helpful . I would gladly recommend him to family and friends . Everyone who attended my husbands funeral commented on the lovely serviceRaquel Leslie
Personally, I would like to thank you again Ian for making everything much easier to handle. We were all very pleased with the service and your attention. It was very much appreciated and I know that mum would have been comforted by the way her funeral was conducted.Brent Russell
I cannot begin to say how happy we are with their services and cost. They were professional, organised, and so so compassionate in our time of grief. I Everything we asked for was given without hesitation and organised for us with a low cost. It was a beautiful service, and many guests also said this. I will not hesitate to recommend Ian J Arthur & SonsSusanna Sevander
Good morning David ..Thank you for all your assistance in ensuring Dad was laid to rest properly..Thank you for all the effort and team work from every little bit of details until yesterday.Much appreciated.I have passed on the good words and your info accordingly to the relos for any future burials..You have a blessed week and enjoy your day.Vinaka
Highly recommended. The professional and personalised service we received from Ian J. Arthur & Sons Funeral Directors was exceptional. Ian went out of his way to ensure all our requests were met. Caring and compassionate. Best of all their price was very affordable and service was excellent !!!Elizabeth Opilas